Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

"How slow and slow and slow it goes to mend the tear that always shows." ~Neil Young

Last weekend the world lost Elizabeth Taylor. In response I selected a film to watch and review in order to make a few additional observations and comments about this world-famous Hollywood actress who graced the cover of innumerable Life magazines and whose life story seems interwoven with the Boomer generation. She was more than a beautiful face with fierce eyes. She knew how to act and, unlike many superstars, knew how to manage her money so as to become (if I remember this correctly) the first woman celebrity to become a billionaire. Her many marriages made her the butt of more than a few late night barbs, which only says that in this regard she paid a high price to get the fame many others have craved. Hollywood is a strange world in that regard.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was a play by Tennessee Williams, also dealing with wounded people. Paul Newman (Brick), Elizabeth Taylor (Maggie, the cat) and Burl Ives (Big Daddy Pollitt, a Mississippi Delta cotton tycoon) are the central characters in this painful drama of family in-fighting. The theme, reiterated several times throughout the film by Brick the alcoholic former football star, is mendacity. Mendacity is a shade of lying, deceit, conniving and Brick with clarity sees this as the epicenter of his family's difficulties.

Tennessee Williams had numerous plays fly to the silver screen. This one, he said, was his personal favorite, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955.

This image here tells the story, with Brick and his wife Maggie no longer side by side but facing different directions. Brick alone knows the truth regarding his father, Big Daddy, and sees with clarity many things, but the drama brings a deeper understanding to each character as motives are revealed and missing facts come to light regarding the roots of their pain.

Williams is to be commended for his ability to create a moment in time in which so many insights converge, revealing the complexity that is beneath the surface of so many lives, families and situations. Ms. Taylor is to be commended for an amped performance that paved the way to her two Academy Awards and global acclaim.

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